News / Calgary

Councillor survey shows citizens want a Saddledome replacement

There's no clear path to a new arena, but Coun. Shane Keating says citizens don't want to give their cash up without seeing some return

Calgary councillors commissioned a Mainstreet Research poll that shows 60 per cent back city-supported construction of a new arena.

Metro Calgary file photo

Calgary councillors commissioned a Mainstreet Research poll that shows 60 per cent back city-supported construction of a new arena.

Half of Calgarians want a new arena and only one-in-five believe the Saddledome meets the city's needs, according to a new councillor-driven poll.  

On Thursday, councillors released survey results hoping their research questions could calm the otherwise divisive CalgaryNEXT and now Victoria Park arena debate.

Fifty per cent of respondents polled say they want a new arena and 19 per cent believe the Saddledome doesn’t meet some or any of citizens current needs. A large number of folks are undecided, and others want details before making a concrete decision.

According to the Mainstreet Research survey commissioned by Coun. Shane Keating and eight of his colleagues, Calgarians are pretty divided on what kind of city cash should go toward an arena – but they agree that a deal for a new arena is a must.

The survey shows that 60 per cent of would back city-supported construction of a new arena - as long as it wouldn't have an impact on property taxes. 

“It does say in many cases that there’s an appetite for public investment,” said Keating. “As long as there’s some methodology in recouping that investment to some degree.”

Keating said the survey doesn’t actually tell councillors how to go about doing that, but in his mind there are several options.

But one question the group of councillors didn’t ask was: should public funds be used in a new arena build.

And that’s something Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who wasn’t asked to participate in the study, but was “notified” it was happening, faulted the group for.

“I think everybody’s pro deal, but the question is for how much,” said Nenshi. “I could quibble about the methodology and the questions, but that said I think it just highlights what I’ve been saying for months and months.”

According to Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart, in the next few weeks the deal will “be on the table” for the public to see with hard numbers if administration and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation can come to an agreement.

“It may very well prompt or spawn another survey,” said Colley-Urquhart. “We may want the answer to that question.”

Coun. Ward Sutherland said council has set out minimum and maximum parameters to the negotiators, but details will come later.

“Should we have the negotiations publicly, of course not,” said Sutherland.

“But there is appetite and the survey shows people are willing to look at this…if the deal is right for Calgarians. We want a win-win situation here, it’s not one party against the other, it’s how to get an outcome both parties can live with.” 

The survey is a random sample of 5,061 Calgarians from April 24 to 26 over cell and landlines. Respondents were screened to confirm residency. Responses are statistically weighted using demographic information based on the 2016 Census. Quotas were set for specific wards and totals may not add to 100 per cent due to rounding. The margin of error varies between plus or minus 4 per cent to 6 per cent, plus or minus – for exact details visit http://www.mainstreetresearch.ca/arena-survey/

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